1988 volume 20(2) pages 165 – 185

Cite as:
Storper M, 1988, "Big structures, small events, and large processes in economic markets" Environment and Planning A 20(2) 165 – 185

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Big structures, small events, and large processes in economic markets

M Storper

Received 22 December 1986; in revised form 3 April 1987

Abstract. The social sciences have tended to look for logics of social processes or of social structures, both of which may be relatively invariant with respect to specific events or may be viewed as determining specific sequences of events. These models are, by virtue of their deep logic, timeless. Most of the recent attempts in social theory to avoid the functionalism and determinism of timeless models have introduced contingency into the structure - events relationship. In this paper I argue, by contrast, that one needs theoretical apparatuses to explain 'paths taken' and 'paths foreclosed' in concrete events in social life. Small events have a certain theoretical `agency' in the construction of large social processes and the latter, in turn, are the stuff out of which social structures are ultimately made or broken. The case of technological change and industry location is used to illustrate this logic, and its implications for theories of urbanisation are suggested.

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